Often as moms, we pride ourselves on being busy. Our husbands call and ask what we're doing and we don't dare say, "nothing" or "just enjoying the kids." Instead we tell them how we just got done with the dishes and we're about to do the laundry and we need to run to the store but the kids are out of control. It's all a badge of honor to us.
I'm guilty of this very thing. But what if our badge of honor was being wise enough to slow down and sit on the floor and play Barbies? What if we took pride in having nothing on the agenda all day -- nowhere to go, no place to be -- so our kids could be bored and use their imaginations and just be kids?
I believe we need more of this in our modern motherhood culture. We need to reclaim downtime.
As moms, it's easy to get swept up in not just our daily household chores but in whisking our kids to every possible activity. Especially in the summertime. There are pools to be swam in, ballgames to be played, and playdates to be had. We go, go, go. And I like to go as much as the next person. (I told you last week how much I love little get-aways.) But I also love time at home with my kids, when it's just us and no one else. Because this is when they are shaped into the people they will become.
This is when they come up with games that involve Littlest Pet Shop characters and Play-doh and intricate surgeries.
This is when their meals are controlled and they're not eating fast food because we're on the go.
This is when they fight and yell and learn to make-up and say they're sorry.
This is when they ask questions and their mama is there to answer them.
And this is when their intake of media, language and environment is most appropriate because it's their house with their boundaries and safeguards.
This is the beauty of downtime.
Like I said, I love to go and do too. This week I hope to take my kids to the Splash Park with their cousin on a day other than the two I work. We moms have many obligations we can't help and others we simply enjoy. And that's fine. But if we are constantly away from home or even entertaining others in our home, our time to really shape and mold our own kids is limited. As my kids' mom, I want to be the number one influence in their lives (along with their daddy) who shapes their worldview, perceptions, and beliefs. But I can't do that if they spend more time out of my sphere of influence than within it. Are they spending more time with coaches, teachers, and teammates than their own family? Are they spending as many nights away at friends' houses as they are at home? Are we so busy and going so much that we don't really have time to talk? If so, I believe we have a problem. We need to consecrate downtime.
I chose the word "consecrate" for this post because according to Oxford Dictionary, it means to make or declare something sacred or to dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose. And I really do believe it's that important, and sometimes that difficult. As Christian moms, we typically have no problem setting aside Sunday mornings for church (and often Sunday nights and Wednesdays too), but the idea of setting aside time to just BE at home with our kids is foreign. It almost feels lazy or like we're not giving our kids enough "fun." I challenge you to think about it differently. Think of downtime with your kids as one of the most important things you can give them because it's the time when your influence over them is the most heightened. It's a hidden gift opened slowly over time and not fully appreciated until the kids are all grown up. But what a worthwhile gift it will be.
This post is the second in my "Be The Mom" series running Mondays this month. I'm hosting the series with my pal, Amanda Farris, who today is writing about being the mom who's the right kind of busy. It's a little twist on my same topic discussed here. Be sure to hop over and read her post. If you missed last week's posts, I wrote about being the mom who plans vacations and she encouraged you to be the mom who eats a McDonald's ice cream cone. Leave a comment on any of our "Be The Mom" posts this month and you'll be entered to win the book "Be The Mom" by Tracey Eyster.